How Not To Embarrass Yourself While Applying For A Job

Rough day today? You simply must read The New York Timesprofile of twin sisters Kristy and Katie Barry, age 24, who provide a solid eight minutes’ worth of entertainment. Kristy and Katie graduated from Rutgers last year, they’ve applied to 150 jobs, and they still haven’t landed that dream job in journalism— either sports reporting or having their own TV show.

The twins, who work as bartenders and dog walkers, have tried all the usual job search tactics—you know, mailing a package of chocolate-covered peanut butter balls to potential employers, befriending editors on Facebook, taking improv classes and playing softball to hunt for leads. No luck! Are you shocked?Girls, believe me, I know journalism is a hard field to break into. I weathered a heinous job search (well, it felt heinous) while living with my parents after college. You, at least, are renting a $2,900 a month apartment on the Upper West Side. But I feel for you! I’ve sat in the waiting room—clod in heels, with freshly printed resumes tucked neatly into a folder—of many of the publications in Manhattan. So, my dears, here’s some free job search advice from me to you:

  1. First of all, cool it with the baked goods. You’re from Ohio; you mailed buckeyes to potential employers. Maybe Amelia can weigh in here, but mailing presents just looks unprofessional to me. [I happily accept presents from people I have no intention of ever hiring. — Editor]
  2. Have a focus. Like, a specific one. You tell the Times you want to be twin sports reporters, but you’ve applied for jobs copy editing the celeb baby section of and to a magazine for diabetics. Employers don’t want to hire you for “some job, any job”—you should be the perfect fit for the job someone is trying to fill.
  3. Newsflash: Bartending won’t get you a job in journalism. I know you have to pay the bills, but you’re not even in the right field. At least put something on your resume related to words! And, furthermore, raking in $800 a week bartending is most likely more money than you’ll earn in most entry-level journalism jobs. Don’t get used to it!
  4. Ditch that $2,900-a-month apartment for something a 24-year-old can afford. Jeez Louise, I don’t even live in a $2,900-a-month apartment and I actually have a job in journalism. Your place surely isn’t hindering your job search, but you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to be able to afford it on an entry-level salary.
  5. Also, cool it with the saxophone-playing. Katie sits in the Times Square subway station playing her sax next to a sign that says, “Don’t Give Money, Give Business Cards.” Again, this sort of behavior does not get anyone job interviews, either.
  6. I don’t mean to be nasty. I really don’t, OK? But whenever I look around at my life and feel guilty for having been gobsmacked with the lucky stick, I remind myself there are people like Kristy and Katie Barry out there in the world. Whatever job interviews I may have flubbed, at least I got those interviews—and I never mailed anyone a package of chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.